The nice thing about coming home from somewhere is seeing people who know and care about me. You can count on the fact that things have changed, a little bit, but usually, the essence of a friend doesn’t change very much. What changes is whatever they are dealing with at the moment in their lives. I’ve been a lucky girl with being blessed with good friends.
Still, I know that I have floated in and out of peoples’ lives in my community. In the last two years I have been like a bird flying from perch to perch. I pop in and perch and hang out as if I have been there all along. This is the case for the communities that I have lived in Hawaii, Vancouver, and Toronto. In each place are people that I love. They have come used to me coming and going. Especially Toronto, where I grew up. For the last year and a half, each time I have come to Toronto I have said ‘I’m back, but not back-back’.
It has been hard on my friends here I know. Last year, in between my trip to Asia and back here for a month to Hawaii I stopped in at the love-in at the Corktown Ukulele Jam. I beamed my best smile and said “Hi!” Opening to give a hug to my friend Steve.
“No…” he said. “I don’t want to be happy you are here because I know you are going again and it hurts” He said it half in jest, but I understood what he was saying.
“C’mon…” I said and forced my hug on him. “I am here now…”
It’s not that I don’t understand. I do…
When I was a girl, my father lived in Taiwan. He ran a company over there. The days before his arrival would be filled with anticipation, and when he was here, we would drop our normal routine and try to fit in a year of parental activity in the time that he was here. It wasn’t easy> Our time with him felt so short and rushed. Every hello was filled with excitement, but also a bit of sadness knowing that he was only going to be around for a few weeks.
Sometimes it bothers me that I inherited his wanderlust. It is something that I never understood it as a child. I used to ask myself why he couldn’t just be happy here in Toronto with us all of the time, and yet, I recognize it in myself in some kind of cruel irony. That tug in my heart that wants to be everywhere at once.
Over the last few months since coming back to Toronto, I have been declaring that I am back-back but there is a small disbelieving look in the faces of my friends. Back for how long? They ask. I have gotten that same question in Vancouver and Toronto. It’s true, I cannot answer, for certain, but I do know that the last time I travelled for an extensive period of time (from 29 to 30) and I decided to stay in Toronto, I stayed for 10 years before I left again.
So it could be awhile that I stay. I have the same motivation as everyone else has – security, love, belonging.
One of my worst fears is somewhat of an irrational one — but is it? I was reading of a woman named Joyce Carol Vincent. A 38-year old woman who died in 2003 but who’s body lay undiscovered at her London flat for 3 years, Christmas presents half wrapped for her friends. People just assumed that she was ‘off somewhere having a better life than they were‘. There is even a documentary about her – http://dreamsofalife.com/
When I read about Joyce’s story I called my sister to tell her about it. “Don’t worry…” she said. “If we didn’t hear from you for about 3 weeks then we’d get worried and come find you wherever you were…” I also made a similar pact with a close friend of mine. I think I might be found.
Let me set things straight — I think that people have this idea that when I’m not here, my life has been about sitting on a beach, or swimming with dolphins, and while I have engaged in some of this, most of the time, I have just been doing normal stuff that I do while I’m here in Toronto. Looking for food to eat, meeting up with friends, looking at my computer, trying to get some exercise, considering taking a nap.
If I leave again (which I don’t plan on) I will tell many of you when I am going, or already gone, so if you don’t hear from me, come looking please.